Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Resolution: Quality over Quantity

As I reflect on the new year and feel the obligation to pick the Greatest Resolution Ever (tm), I come up with several ideas for things that I just *know* will make me a better person: I should read more, eat less, pray more, complain less, etc. As I think about it, though, a theme appears: "Quality over Quantity".

I keep thinking about a post I read over at Faith and Family yesterday about choosing a one-word resolution. The idea of having a "theme" for the year is intriguing to me. Having one word or phrase to really ingrain on my mind seems like a more sustainable way of accomplishing goals than having a few unrelated resolutions.

In the hope that perhaps one of my resolutions will spark something in your mind, here are a few areas in which I'm planning to enact that phrase this year.


Over the summer, I exchanged several letters with my roommate, who was several states away. Yes, we could've chatted on instant messenger, and probably would have scored a higher word count. Instead, I have a small stack of letters on beautiful stationery, filled with complete sentences, wonderful thoughts, personal confidences, and no "LOL"s or ";-)"s (which I use as much as anyone in online conversation). Not to mention the importance of having something
physical. I have trouble finding blog posts I read two days ago, but I know exactly where those letters are. In a world filled with digital photos, e-books, and yes, blogs, having something tangible to keep in a box and look back upon is still important. As I wailed to my Pious Gentleman once when he was expressing his distaste for letter-writing, "But you can't put IM conversations in a pretty box in your wardrobe!"

A friend of mine wrote a letter a day, each to a different person, every day of Lent last year. I'm probably not going to be so rigorous, but I'm going to make it a point to write more letters. 44 cents and half an hour of my time is a small price to pay, I feel.

For more reading about handwritten notes, check out this post from last year.


I've come to my annual realization that I don't read nearly as much as I should. Class reading excepted, I'm certain I read less than 25 entire books this year. I would use the college student excuse of having "sooooooo much hoooooooomework," but then I realize that I spend far more time than I want to admit reading blogs all day. Obviously, I'm no enemy of blogs, but I have to wonder just what percentage of even the best blog is as edifying as a piece of classic literature or the writings of one of the saints. I'm still trying to decide on a reasonable goal for the year, but am finding it hard given the unpredictability of schoolwork and my schedule. In the meantime, I'd love to hear suggestions for things I
must read. I'm open to fiction and non-fiction – anything you've found important in your own life.


Enough of the half-hearted rosaries during which I'm just thinking about what I have to do tomorrow. This year, I'm making specific – and attainable – goals for my prayer life. What's more, I'm going to share them with someone else whom I know will keep me accountable. For myself, I find that just as important as the actual prayer time is the time I need to spend to quiet my mind beforehand. That daily rosary goes by without a snatch of actual meditation when I'm writing essays or emails in my head. Again, I have a hard time making excuses for my lack of a more dedicated prayer life when I know that I spend so much time doing far less important things.

This theme will, I hope, carry over into many more areas of my life – relationships, homework, purchases, etc. I have high hopes for this year; what are your goals?


Margaret Mary said...

I think my word might be balance. My natural tendency toward criticism should be better balanced with gratitude, cynicism with joy, online social interaction with real interaction, and so on. When I’m aware of something, I can act on it, so I’d like to be more aware of a healthy balance in all things.

Lucy said...


I've had the wonderful experience of working for a religious order of the most compassionate, kind, gentle women I have ever met. I want to carry this spirit to all areas of my life, to be kinder to myself, my husband, and the world around me.

Daniela said...

Patience is my word; I'm finding that it brings forth compassion and understanding. Some situations, I'm sure we've all discovered, require fervent prayer to achieve it.

Daniela said...

One in a series of books by Jacques Philippe addresses the problems we sometimes encounter when thoughts or sentiments distract our prayers or rosary recitations. This will comfort and inspire you:

"In starting to pray, alone....regardless of what we may or may not feel, the preparation we have or haven't made, how good we are or aren't at stringing beautiful thoughts together-regardless of our whole inner state - God is there, with us, looking at us and loving us."

Caroline said...

Thank you for this blog.
I'm right there with you on the resolution to read "mo bettah" stuff and to keep my daily rosary from sliding into absent-minded territory.
I keep thinking back to Tolstoy's War and Peace, which I read for the first time in 1992, when my children were preschoolers and we had just moved to Dallas, and thus knew no one anyway. How many times have I reflected on Tolstoy's truth of things. Can't remember a book that affected me in that way, except for perhaps Walker Percy. Time to read W&P again -- winter's a great time! Tolstoy's take on history -- that history has purpose and direction -- that it points to divine authorship -- is a theme I see echoed again and again when I step back and take a long view at the "history" we're making in our day and age. Tolstoy provided me with an "epiphany" all my own, and I came to view my faith in a new way after that. It really was a watershed.